Donald Trump rips NFL, says owners should cut any players who kneel during anthem

If Donald Trump owned an NFL team, there would be some severe consequences for any player who chose to kneel for the national anthem. 

During a rally in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday, the president made it clear where he stands on player protests. Trump said he would love to see NFL owners cut any player who protests by kneeling during the national anthem. 

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now," Trump said to a cheering crowd. "Out. He's fired. He's fired."

As the crowd began to chant "U-S-A" to Trump, the president made sure to mention that he's friends with "many" NFL owners and he also made sure to mention that the first owner to cut a protesting player would instantly become the most popular person in the country.  

"You know, some owner is going to do that, he's going to say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired,'" Trump said. "And that owner, they don't know it -- they're friends of mine, many of them -- they don't know it, they'll be the most popular person for a week, they'll be the most popular person in this country, because that's a total disrespect of our heritage, that's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for."

Trump does have some support among the NFL ownership. There were at least seven owners who donated a million dollars each to his inauguration fund. That list of owners includes: Robert Kraft (Patriots), Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Woody Johnson (Jets), Stan Kroenke (Rams), Dan Snyder (Redskins), Shahid Khan (Jaguars), and Bob McNair (Texans).

As for protesters, Colin Kaepernick became the first player to protest when he sat for the anthem during a preseason game in August 2016. Kaepernick's protest started a movement where players began to kneel as a way to protest racial injustice and police brutality. 

kaepernick-kneel-49ers-trump.jpg
Colin Kaepenrick started a movement in 2016.  USATSI

Back in August 2016, Trump said that Kaepernick should find a new country to live in if he didn't want to stand for the national anthem. 

Thirteen months into the protests, Trump said that the players kneeling is likely the second biggest reason that the NFL's TV ratings are down. Of course, the No. 1 reason why ratings are down is because of Trump, according to Trump. 

"I know we have freedoms and we have freedom of choice and many many different freedoms, but you know what, it's still totally disrespectful," Trump said. "And you know, when the NFL ratings are down massively -- massively -- the NFL ratings are down massively, now the No. 1 reason happens to be that they like watching what happens with yours truly. They like what's happening."

During his rally in Alabama, protesting players weren't the only ones who Trump took a shot at. The president also blasted the NFL for becoming too soft. Trump said that all NFL's new rules against big hits is making the game unwatchable. 

"Today, if you hit too hard, if they hit too hard, 'Fifteen yards, throw him out of the game,'" Trump said. "They had that last week, I watched for a couple of minutes."

Trump's rant also got kind of bizarre when he started to blame some of the NFL's softness on the league's officials. 

"Two guys, just a really beautiful tackle, boom, fifteen yards, the referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she's so proud of him," Trump said. "They're ruining the game, right? They're ruining the game."

This is the second time in less than a year that Trump has called the NFL soft. Back in October 2016, then presidential candidate Trump said that the league's concussion rules were making the NFL soft. 

Trump must've forgotten for a second that he was in the college football capital of the world because he seemed to lose the crowd for a second after bringing up the fact that the sport of football is being "ruined," so he went back to his original topic: Anthem protesters. 

"They want to hit, but it is hurting the game, but you know what's hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they're playing our great national anthem," Trump said. 

Trump closed the NFL portion of his speech by telling fans that they should leave the stadium if they see a player protest. 

"The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it's one player, leave the stadium, I guarantee you things will stop," Trump said. "Things will stop. Just pick up and leave."

Trump was in Alabama on Friday to help sway the vote in an upcoming run-off for one of the state's seats in the U.S. Senate. Trump was there to support Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who was appointed to his spot February after former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions was named Attorney General. Strange is running against Roy Moore in a special election that will be held on Sept. 26. 

You can see the entire portion of Trump's NFL speech below. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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